Call of Duty: Black Ops
Setting the next Call of Duty game during the paranoia and espionage of the Cold War is an intriguing move for the series, but it’s the new currency system that will make the biggest impact on the multiplayer. Each title since Modern Warfare has based its multiplayer unlocks solely on gaining XP and leveling up. In this system, certain types of gamers were “rewarded” with guns or perks that they never intended on using. If your play style was suited to assault rifles or LMGs, that shiny new sniper rifle wasn’t of much use to you. This new installment retains a leveling system, but the goal isn’t to unlock weapons and perks in a method predetermined by the developer.
Players have far more say in their personal upgrade paths. Currency is accrued through various means in Black Ops, which players can spend on new weapons, perks, and graphics for their customizable emblem. As you level up, you’ll unlock the ability to buy that sniper rifle, but you have the option to ignore it in an effort to save money for that assault rifle you’ve been eyeing a few levels up.
In Black Ops, you’ll be putting money on how well you stack up against other players in the new wager matches. These function like poker tournaments, with every player buying in at a predetermined price (which can be doubled down) and the top three players being “in the money” at the end of the round.
Check out page 2 to read about the different wager matches.
Four wager matches are available, and they’re all free-for-alls. Sticks and Stones is a ridiculous mode that arms every player with explosive crossbows, ballistic knives (an actual prototype weapon from the era that shoots the blade out of the handle), and tomahawks. The player with the top score is called out on the radar with a gold icon rather than the standard red. This special treatment is very bad news for the leader considering what the other players can do. If a player successfully kills another with a thrown hatchet, the victim is immediately bankrupted. That badass in first place can immediately plunge to the very bottom of the scoreboard with one well-aimed tomahawk, and that gold icon on the radar guarantees he’ll have to dodge his share of blades before he wins the round.
One in the Chamber is another
wager match that proves to be more tactical and pressure-filled than the
others. Each player starts with a knife and a pistol with one bullet in
the chamber. Earning a kill gives you another bullet, and each player
has three lives to work with. The strategy comes into play when you’re
deciding how to go about killing your opponents. Do you go for one shot,
one kill for each, or do you run around stabbing everyone in an effort
to stockpile bullets? When you approach an enemy in this mode, it almost
feels like a Wild West duel. You find yourself counting the number of
shots they’ve fired so you can predict whether or not they have another
Sharpshooter is the most bare-boned of the four wager matches. Basically, it randomizes the weapon each player is holding every 45 seconds. Everyone is battling with crossbows one second, only to switch to a giant minigun-filled fracas. It’s possibly the least noteworthy of the four, but it’s still a nice change of pace if you’re tiring of the standard TDM/Domination playlists.
Each of these wager matches is a welcome break from the norm, but Gun Game was the standout mode during my time with the multiplayer. Each player starts with a pistol and is tasked with climbing through 20 tiers of weapons before they win the match. Get a kill with the pistol and you’re rewarded with double pistols. Get another kill and you’ll move onto the shotguns, then the assault rifles, the sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and so on. A couple of interesting touches make all the difference in Gun Game. If you stab an enemy, you don’t move up a tier, but you do demote them to their previous rank. It’s incredibly frustrating if you’ve made it past the difficult sniper rifle tier only to be stabbed back down the ranks. Guaranteeing that the round always ends with a dramatic kill cam, the final weapon is the ballistic knife. After going through all of the previous tiers, you’ll have to score one well-aimed knife shot to earn top rank. The matches elicited more shouting and cursing from its players than any I’ve seen in quite some time, and it’s an absolute blast.
Check out the official wager match trailer below: